Meet our experts in person!

Are you an international student already in the USA? Are you at a language school on the East Coast?

Take advantage of this exciting opportunity to meet one of our US university experts in person.

Later this month, Ian Wright, Director of International Admissions for Long Island University in New York, will be presenting to international students in New York and Boston.

The New York presentation details are:
Date: Wednesday March 14, 2012
Location: Embassy CES language school, 6th floor
Address: use entrance at 328 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001
Time: 12.30pm
Tel: 212 629 7300

The Boston presentation details are:
Date: Friday March 16, 2012
Location: Embassy CES language school
Address: 41 West Street, Boston, MA 02111
Time: 11.30am
Tel: 857-362-8970

Each presentation will take 30-45 minutes and there will be an opportunity for you to ask questions about applying to university in New York.

All international students are welcome.

If you would like to attend, email Tom Griffin at to add your name to the guest list. Bring photo ID on the day.

Visiting Campus from Abroad

Navigating the University Search Process

I can still remember the moment I stepped foot onto James Madison University’s campus – happy students socializing and studying in picturesque settings, the bluestone buildings along the quad, the sun shining against the breathtaking Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance. I knew in that moment that James Madison University was where I wanted to spend the next four years. That was more than ten years ago, and I still can’t get enough of the Blue Ridge skyline.

While the campus visit is a vital part of the university search process, many students today, particularly international students, are not able to simply hop in the car for a weekend visit. With strong academic programs across the globe the campus visit has shifted from campus to our computer. Online search engines and guidebooks are bursting with information, but oftentimes these outlets can be overwhelming. University rankings are exciting, but do not always share the full story of everything a school has to offer. If you are suffering from cyberspace overload here are some tips to avoid crashing.

Beyond the Basics:

Kick off your search with standard sites like the university homepage that links to information for prospective students and admissions requirements. These are central starting points that often include quick facts, online tours and links to academic programs. But don’t stop there. Consider a few outlets beyond these basics to get an insider’s guide on what to expect on campus. Browsing the digital copy of a student newspaper, clicking through the calendar of events, and navigating to an area visitor’s guide website will paint a better picture of life on and off campus. Use the search box typically found at the top of each homepage as a helpful tool for finding specific information.

Save Your Search:

There is so much information available it is easy to get lost clicking away from one link to the next. You may find yourself questioning where you found a virtual tour, a layout of a residence hall, the university that had the exact academic program you had been seeking, etc. Keep these links as you find them in one easy to access document with a short description of each link and the name of the university so that you can refer to it later. Social bookmarking websites like and are helpful resources for saving your searches. You’ll save your time and your sanity from re-searching for this information.

Virtual Visuals:

Pictures, videos, and virtual tours are essential to helping you get a better feel for campus. In addition to popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, here are a few other websites to keep on your radar.


· or



If access to these or similar sites is limited in your country use the information request form or e-mail address provided by the university to request printed materials. Some universities may be able to connect you with a student or professor in your academic area of interest to share their perspective.

Follow Up:

Universities abroad are eager and excited to recruit international students. They want to hear from you and share information about the university. As you find universities that interest you fill out their online information request form. Set up a separate e-mail account to use for university communication so that you know you will receive this information in one spot and will not be overloading your personal e-mail account. A separate account is a great way to share this information with your parents or guardians so that they can access important university updates sent via e-mail.

These are just a few things to keep in mind when starting your online search. Start early, take your time, and enjoy the process. The more effort you put into making an informed decision, the more likely you will be academically and personally successful in your new environment.

Organizing transcripts and evaluations/translations of transcripts

For many students new to university life and life in the United States, navigating the many regulations, timelines, rules, and guidelines can appear a bit daunting. Clear communication, defined goals, good organizational skills, previous research, and a professional support network of academic advisors, teachers and administrators can help students tremendously during this exciting transitional phase of life.

Effective January 1, 2012, James Madison University Undergraduate Admissions now requires all undergraduate students to provide a HARD COPY attested/certified high school transcripts with their complete application package. In addition, all transcripts, as well as a copy of the graduation diploma/certificate, need to be translated into English. The minimum GPA required for undergraduate admissions purposes to JMU-ISC is a 3.0 (U.S. equivalent).

Students also need to provide a copy of their passport, visa if applicable, student letter/letter of intent, a professional letter of recommendation, an official TOEFL/IELTS or Study Group English test score, and a bank statement or financial guarantee (if on scholarship) indicating minimum funds of US $34,000.

Accuracy and completion when filling out the application and required health forms are also very important. Not only does this improve the likelihood of acceptance to JMU, but there is also vital information which potentially impacts the student’s safety and well-being. Organizing immunizations records and other required documents while in one’s home country will not only save time and money, but will lessen the stress factor a student may feel upon arrival in the U.S.

The JMU Graduate Admissions Office has a different set of admissions requirements for graduate students. Different graduate programs have different admission deadlines and starting dates, so it is very important to educate oneself on the specific program requirements for the degree one is seeking.

The application process for international students, residing outside of the United States, typically takes between 6 months to one year. Students need to have a formal credential evaluation of undergraduate course work submitted directly to the JMU Graduate Admissions Office, as well as complete a financial declaration. This is in addition to all other required documents such as a student letter, letters of recommendation, passport, copy of undergraduate diploma, completed health form, and International Student Advisor’s Report (if applicable). One of the unique benefits of the James Madison University Pre-Master’s Program is that graduate students have until the end of their first semester in our program to complete the GRE or GMAT exam as required by the specific graduate program.

In conclusion, doing research ahead of time, and providing up to date, accurate, and complete documents in English will help facilitate a positive, timely and favorable admission process when applying to the James Madison University International Study Center.

Students can then focus on building positive new experiences and academic success. We look forward to continuing to welcome new international students to JMU-ISC, and helping them achieve their academic and future career goals.

American medical coverage a pain in the rib: an overview of student healthcare and insurance in the United States

When I moved to Costa Rica, I was surprised that I could simply walk into a pharmacy and buy almost any medication without a prescription. (I say “almost” because I needed a prescription for a pain medication when I fractured my ribs—but I digress.) Coming from the United States, this was a strange concept.

For most people, when we travel and live in a foreign country, we don’t think that anything out of the ordinary will happen to us. The stark reality though, is that unexpected things do happen (like my ribs smashing against the fishing boat in the Gulf of Guanacaste). In the United States, health care and medication is largely a privatized system, which translates to the fact that it can be very expensive.

Just for background, health insurance, most simply put, is any form of insurance that provides protection against the high cost of medical services. Here in the United States, it is both a public and private system. While the majority of citizens have private insurance plans, the government subsidizes the majority of medical costs for seniors and low-income children and families. The two government-run programs, Medicare and Medicaid, draw considerable attention from politicians, press, and public voices in the United States.

Nearly 70% of Americans opt for private healthcare coverage. Out of the United States’ entire population, over 60% buy into plans offered through their employers, while just 9% purchase insurance directly. While healthcare plans are managed by a consortium of private companies, the content of said plans are regulated by both state and federal precedents.

Most schools in the United States require students to either enroll in school-sponsored insurance plans, or provide confirmation of a comparable coverage source. Study Group’s Study Care is one such program.

Study Group’s Study Care is, effectively, a form of private health insurance offered specifically to Study Group students. The insurance, which covers everything from doctor visits to surgery, becomes effective immediately after admitted students leave their home country’s airspace (aka, when you touch off the tarmac for the United States). While a small fee of $50 is charged directly to the student following medical consultations, this fee is only a deductible, or partial payment, of whatever expense was incurred by the visit. So, basically, if a doctor visit cost $250, an insured student will only be expected to pay $50 out-of-pocket.

Some specialty services, such as psychiatric therapy, dental care, or addiction rehabilitation, incur greater direct costs, however, for the sake of time, I’ll defer to the Study Care pamphlet which discusses these details in full. Once a student departs the United States, Study Care coverage becomes null and void. Upon re-entry, however, students’ insurance may be renewed if applicable.

For more information please refer to the following links: | Health Insurance
Review health insurance options, retrieve information, and learn more about this vital industry.

Study Group | Study Care
Comprehensive insurance plan developed specifically for international students studying via Study Group.

US University grading scale explained

When studying in the USA, acronyms become a very important part of your life. An acronym is a word typically formed from the first letters in a set phrase or group of words. For example, OPEC is an acronym for Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries; it is much easier to say (and spell) “OPEC” than what the o, p, e, and c represent. Many of the acronyms you will hear or read will be specific to your university (like COB for College of Business), but one acronym is understood wherever you study: GPA.

GPA is an acronym for Grade Point Average. This is a number calculated from the grades you earn when studying at a US university. When you study at a US university, GPA is on a scale from 0.0 to 4.0, with 4.0 being the highest your GPA can be. GPA is very important in US universities. Students must keep a certain level of GPA to continue studying in the university; some scholarships require a certain level of GPA to be maintained; and some majors require a minimum GPA before a student continues studying in that program.

This chart shows you how much each letter grade is worth in number of points to GPA:

A = 90-100%


B = 80-89%


C = 70-79%


D = 60-69%


F = < 60%


To calculate a GPA, let’s say that a student is enrolled in five classes during one semester. Four of those classes are 3-hour classes and one class is a 4-hour class. (The term hour is sometimes used for credit; the number of hours or credits determines how much a class is worth.) This means the student is taking 16 hours for the semester (four 3-hr classes + one 4-hr class). At the end of the semester, this imaginary student earns the following grades:

Class 1: 3 hrs


Class 2: 3 hrs


Class 3: 3 hrs


Class 4: 3 hrs


Class 5: 4 hrs


In order to determine the student’s GPA, the number of hours/credits each class counts for (3 hrs or 4 hrs), in this case are multiplied by the points earned from the class (A=4, etc.).

Class 1: 3 hrs

A (4)


Class 2: 3 hrs

B (3)


Class 3: 3 hrs

B (3)


Class 4: 3 hrs

C (2)


Class 5: 4 hrs

B (3)


Once the number of points per class is calculated (3×4, etc.), they are added together. The student earned a total of 48 points (12+9+9+6+12) for the semester. Remember, the student took 16 hours, so this results in the student’s GPA being 3.0 for the semester (48/16=3.0).

 Apply now for your US University degree!